7 April 2008, 06:06
“How do I get a job at Lush Cosmetics?”
If you knew how many times I’ve been asked this question, you would laugh! Seriously, there would be major giggling. You might even guffaw. So I figured it was time to answer it en masse rather than dishing out little tips whenever I get an email like this!
I worked at Lush a few years ago, & it was the only “normal” job I ever had that I actually enjoyed. I would wake up in the morning & genuinely look forward to the work day. That is high praise! I was there for about two years, I think, & graduated from sales assistant to shop manager in about three months. I left because I had finally had my fill of retail.
So, how can you get a job there? I’m not doing their hiring, so I can’t tell you exactly, but these are my thoughts on the matter.
First of all, in my experience the people who do best at Lush (& the people who get hired & promoted fastest) are the people with oodles of self-confidence (or at least the ability to convincingly fake it)! If you’re working in retail & you don’t really enjoy relating to people, you are going to feel pretty sour about it. You’ve probably noticed that if you go into a Lush store, everyone will say hello to you or try to make conversation. You might have seen the sales assistants singing along to the stereo, or the shop manager giving a hand massage to demonstrate a product. If you start working at Lush, you’ll be one of those people! You have to be okay with talking to everyone who comes in, rubbing products into their skin & holding thousands of objects up for customers to sniff.
Lush is really not a place for shrinking violets, the nervous or anyone who feels socially inadequate or anxious. It just isn’t. It won’t work. You’ll be miserable & you won’t sell anything & it will cause a huge chain of problems. If you are more introverted than extroverted & you still want to work for Lush, you might have better luck seeking employment on the production or administrative side of things.
The best thing you can do, as a potential sales assistant, is whip up a fabulous-looking resume (use great paper, colours & your artistic flair) & then walk into your closest Lush shop with it. Don’t just heave it across the counter & run out again. Odds are good that the person on the other side of the counter is the person who has the power to hire you, so appeal to them! Wait until they’re not flat out with a customer, & then talk to them. Tell them how much you looove the products. Say you’d be really keen to work there, & explain your circumstances (full-time, part-time, student?). Allude to the fact that you are a fantastic potential workmate, with a great sense of humour & a mean cupcake recipe. Smile & be confident, be outgoing & enthusiastic about the interaction.
You already know that first impressions count. Here’s an example. When I was at Lush & looking for people to hire, I would personally throw the vast majority CV’s straight in the bin almost as soon as the person’s back was turned — because they’d just skulked in, mumbled something & run out again. I wasn’t going to hire someone like that! What good would they be? So when you go in, turn on the charm. Know that the manager is thinking that if you can’t do it now, how are you going to do it for the customers?
Honestly, I think the best way to do it is befriend the people who work at your local Lush. Drop in every now & then, have a chat, buy something, talk about the new products & ask how their day is going. Gently remind them that you’re still keen to work there. Ask them to let you know if something comes up. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, & all that. If they have someone leave or they need someone extra over Christmas, & you are in the forefront of their mind, you better believe that they’ll give you a call!
If they really have no positions — & it happens, especially in small stores — swing by in September or October, in time to be hired for the Christmas rush. The best Christmas casual employees are very commonly offered part- or full-time positions soon afterwards.
The Lush interviewing process is pretty relaxed. Be yourself, be enthusiastic, demonstrate your product knowledge. (If you don’t know much about the products, pick up a copy of the Lush Times & start learning!) Lush use all natural products & a lot of essential oils, so if you know anything about that kind of thing, don’t be afraid to let your interviewer know it. A bit of prior retail experience is a bonus, too, but it’s certainly not imperative.
If you’re invited to come in & do some trial work — & I don’t even know if they still do this — remember to be confident! Approach as many customers as you can, even if it terrifies you, because if you can’t do that, there is no way they will employ you. Just go over to people & say, “Hi, how are you doing?” Smile & be friendly. One of the classic lines Lushies use is, “Have you ever been into a Lush shop before?”, because often people will say, “Um, err, no!” which gives you free reign to jump on them & pull them from area to area & demonstrate about a billion products. Anyway, if you whip that line out, you’re practically a shoo-in. Instant employment, wink wink!
While Lush is truly an awesome place to work, the majority of jobs they have on offer are retail, & so they pay retail wages. This can be off-putting for some people, especially those of us accustomed to a high standard of living! I eventually got to a point where I wanted to earn more money & not have to stand on my feet all day to do it, which is why I left. However, Lush do have bonus schemes, incentives, training & an amazing discount. It used to be 50% when I was there, which was fantastic. (The low cost of products also encourages you to use them so you can sell better.)
They’re a very ethical company — all their products are vegetarian, a lot of them are vegan & they are committed to fair trade practises as well as giving to charity. They get named as one of the top places to work all the time, so you’re in good hands.
Lush customers are a pretty unusual lot, & your relationships with them will be similarly odd. In most high street shops, you’re lucky to be on the receiving end of a curt hello. Lush is different. People are encouraged to pick things up & try them out, have a sniff & slap a bit on. This paves the way for some interesting interactions. How do you, for example, discreetly & pleasantly tell a customer that they have glitter or powder on the end of their nose? How do you help a man pick a gift for his wife (who is angry at him)? How do you talk to someone about their spots without making them feel ugly or self-conscious?
You get the drift. It’s an unconventional role in a very unconventional company, with its own unique challenges.
I had some amazing experiences there. There was, for example, the incident on Christmas Eve — the busiest day of the retail year — where my assistant manager came to work drunk. (Oh, I can’t tell you how thrilled I was! Grimace.) There was the incessant flirting with the boys from the record store around the corner. There were choreographed dance routines to Grease performed for customers. Some of us walked around with face masks on, & some of us just slathered ourselves with glittery massage bars before the day started. We succumbed to never-ending cutting & wrapping of soap (which I still miss doing), painfully regular stock-takes & extremely short-notice flights to Australia to meet the big man himself (Mark Constantine) & sample the newest products. I got used to people in the bus stop sniffing me & asking, “Have you been at Lush?” I even developed charming responses to those who asked if working there gave me a headache (I was asked this every day, & surely if it did, I wouldn’t have worked there?!).
The main reasons I loved working at Lush were that they award their staff a lot of responsibility (which is pretty much opposite of every other company, who seem to go out of their way to disempower you), I worked with great people, it was a fairly relaxed environment & I loved their products — which made selling them an absolute joy. Not like work at all.